Quotes

Passion is the engine . . .

Robert Crais: Passion is the engine that has to fire the whole thing.   Successful writing is all about passion, to create a world that’s full and complete and engrosses the reader. First and foremost, the reader is you. If you’re writing about a world in which you need to research to learn about it, then feel passionate about it. If you’re not passionate about what you’re writing, you’re writing the wrong thing. You want heat, you want fire. That’s what we gather around and warm our hands with. Excerpted from “Fired Up,” by Jessica Strawser, Writer’s Digest, Nov/Dec 2016 #amwriting #justwrite #creativewriting

Sparks

Claudia

Memorable writing that sparks imagination. Lean in. Hear the writer’s voice on the page. Claudia by Nona Smith We held our wine glasses up and tapped their rims together. Clink.           “Do you know why that’s done?” Claudia asked.           “I have no idea,” I said.           “The French began the custom centuries ago. It’s to make us appreciative of all five of our senses.” Claudia had a treasure trove of that kind of information.  “Ahhh, les Francais; ils savent tout,” she added.           She spoke three languages fluently and had enough vocabulary in others to find bathrooms in foreign countries and order wine in restaurants. Born in Germany and well-travelled, Claudia had European sensibilities and a sophisticated sense of style. Her hair was cut by a Sassoon-trained stylist, she wore only Italian-made shoes, and the walls of her dining room were painted Chinese red, seasons before that trend appeared…

Book Reviews

Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story

If you’re looking for a murder mystery with a clever wooly sleuth, then “Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story” by Leonie Swann is for you! I haven’t read many mysteries, but I do love a good animal story, so this book caught my attention. Who wouldn’t be interested in a story about a flock of sheep determined to solve the mystery of their shepherd’s death? How, you may ask, does a flock of sheep solve a mystery? Well, these aren’t just any sheep. George, their shepherd, read to them every day, so they’ve been exposed to philosophical literature, mysteries, and romance novels. With the intrepid Miss Maple in the lead, the gang escapes their pasture to do a little detective work in the village while trying to go unnoticed by the village butcher. They gaze up at cloud sheep – what becomes of a sheep when they die—as they…

Prompts

Lies, humiliation, secrets . . . Prompt #604

Memoir is similar to many elements of fiction: Careful scene setting, pacing, tension, conflict. Seduce the reader with a confiding tone. Reveal secrets. The best secrets are those that the author reveals or learns about self in the process, “Ah, did I really think that?” Readers are interested in your conflicts. It’s important to modulate good times and bad times. “The best memoirs explore and reveal conflict in a way that illuminates and startles.” —Kat Meads Consider the scope of your memoir. It’s not necessary to start from when you were born and work your way up. Don’t try to write about everything. Take one aspect. The year you were in Paris, for example. If you go with a chronological way of telling, share just the important events that shaped you. The idea is to look objectively at your life to write a richer subjective memoir. Part of writing memoir…

Prompts

Seeing the scene from character’s point of view . . . Prompt #603

“The goal of description is to create a well-designed set that provides the perfect background for your characters—a setting that stays in the background without overwhelming the scene or interrupting the story.” —Moira Allen In real life, we explore our surroundings through our actions and experience them through our senses. Create a structure for your characters to do the same. Craft your descriptions so details unfold as your character moves through the scene. Know which details your character would notice right away and which details will register more slowly. Suppose, for example, your heroine is a secretary of humble origins and has just entered the mansion of a millionaire. Let her notice how soft the rich Persian carpet feels underfoot, how it muffles her footfalls, how she is tempted to remove her shoes. Don’t mention how soft the sofa is until she sinks into it. Let her smell the leather…

Just Write

I knew I wanted to write . . .

Natalie Goldberg The Art Of Writing Practice: “By my early twenties, I knew I wanted to write and I knew I couldn’t learn to do it through traditional writing classes. I had to begin with what I knew, something no one could tell me I was wrong about. And so, I studied my mind. As I wrote, I would discover things about my mind, how it would move, wander, settle. I began teaching writing from the inside out. Usually, writing teachers tell us what good writing is, but not how to get to it . . . in 1986 [when “Writing Down The Bones” was published] people were starving to write, but they didn’t know how, because the way writing was taught didn’t work for them. I think the idea of writing as a practice freed them up. It meant that they could trust their minds, that they were allowed…

Sparks

Barbara’s Braid

Memorable writing that sparks imagination. Lean in. Hear the writer’s voice on the page. Today’s Sparks is a pantoum. Barbara’s Braid By Karen Ely Weaving strands of amber honey Over, under, around and through Silky locks of shimmer sunlight Plaited patterns, three by two   Over, under, around, and through Brush strokes cultivate the threads Plaited patterns three by two A tapestry of golds and reds   Brush strokes cultivate the threads Silky locks of shimmer sunlight Plaited patterns, three by two Weaving strands of amber honey   Karen Handyside Ely was born and raised in Petaluma, California. She delights in difficult crossword puzzles, the Santa Rosa Symphony, and traveling with her husband, James. Karen has been published in The Write Spot to Jumpstart Your Writing: Discoveries, The Write Spot: Reflections, The Write Spot: Possibilities, The Write Spot: Writing as a Path to Healing, and The Write Spot: Musings and Ravings From a…

Prompts

A time you fumbled. Prompt #602

The prompt:  Write about a time you fumbled or stumbled or faltered. Or: Write about a kindness you have done or would have like to have done. Here’s the backstory: December 2016 Occasion:  Nobel Prize ceremony, Stockholm, Switzerland. Patti Smith delivered an emotional rendition of Bob Dylan‘s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” at the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, December 2016. She sang for a few minutes, faltered, stopped singing, and said, “I’m sorry. I’m so nervous.” Then she continued in her beautiful, transportive way. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Awkwardly faltering. But usually, we don’t want to admit what we perceive as a weakness. January 2017 I’ve had a lot to think about these past few days. Extreme highs: Watching granddaughter perform as rat and a camel in her church Christmas pageant and as a soldier in the Nutcracker. Celebrated with son, his wife, and her family as his…